Category Archives: Billy Wilder

#1 Billy Wilder – Fedora (1978)

Glorify who you are today, do not condemn who you were yesterday.

 

I saw my very first Billy Wilder film today and I can’t wait to watch more of his work. In his career spanning five decades as a film maker, he has accomplished to make sixty film, many of them still considered as classics. I feel dreadful to say that I haven’t been fortunate enough to watch more of his films. I look forward to it.

 

(Spoilers ahead)

 

First things first, I feel the poster gives away the story completely. If you can join the dots, it should not be difficult for you to determine the great secret behind Fedora. As for myself, I knew it all along. I’ve known this story for a long time and it makes me wonder what kept me from watching it so long. And yet, I was hooked. I think there are very few films who possess you so deeply that even if you know what is there to unfold you just wait to appreciate how it unfolds.

 

And this is what the film is all about, unfolding a story. Fedora, to those who don’t know it yet is this. Essentially a hat which leaves a shadow on your face when you walk in the Sun; covering most of it. The brilliance of the story begins with the title. The title tells us the story in a word. And that’s it.

 

We have so many films which end with every character in the film getting what he/she wanted. A crescendo, a happy ending. Surprisingly enough, though this is not the only film that has done this but it must be among the very first to end a film with none of the characters getting what they wished for. I feel it is just another suggestion towards the real world of celebrities which is different from their profile they project in public. It is about the tragedy of those who seem to have it all, but in reality are more hurt, more lonely than anyone else.

 

If we speak about the pattern, we have seen this same one in Citizen Kane. Charles Foster Kane dies right in the start and we explore his story through some unreliable sources with prejudices and biases. Although this structure is much simpler. It consists of two distinct flash backs according to me. One right after our point of view character,  Barry “Dutch” Detweiler played by William Holden stares at the mortal remains of the Legend, Fedora. And the other after the secret is just revealed in the second half.

 

We know all along that the film is not going to end on a high. We have no moments in the film when we can rejoice for long. Just the haunting past which keeps pricking us right where it hurts and reminds us of the unfortunate future of everyone. And that’s what makes the film so special for me.